The Miami Heat's lengthy road trip continues on, as they're set to face the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night. Since the Heat lost to the Bucks to kick off February, look for Miami to get revenge.
Milwaukee looks to turn things around after suffering a four-point loss to the Orlando Magic, whereas the Heat look to extend their win streak to three games. Miami has won 10 of it's last 12 games, showing that they're even more of a team to fear this year.
While the Heat look like a much more dominant team on paper, this won't be an easy contest for Miami.
The Bucks know how to play, and they have young talent capable of doing big things. The Heat better make sure they don't overlook Milwaukee and come out slow, because the Bucks will make them pay.
With that said, let's take a look at some specifics of this Eastern Conference showdown.
When: Monday, Feb. 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Betting Line: Heat (-6.5) per VegasInsider.com
What's At Stake?
For the Heat, a loss wouldn't be detrimental or anything, but it could still stink. The Bulls are likely to be without Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton for a few more games, meaning that Miami can surpass them for first place in the Eastern Conference soon. However, a loss to the Bucks would be an unneeded setback.
Milwaukee is currently half a game behind New York for eighth place in the conference. The Bucks really need a victory to stay in the playoff hunt, and since it would be against the mighty Heat, it would give the Bucks great confidence moving forward.
Miami Injury Report
*According to CBS Sports
C Dexter Pittman (Shoulder): Questionable
Milwaukee Injury Report
*According to CBS Sports
C Andrew Bogut (Ankle): Out until at least early April
What They're Saying
The official Twitter page for the Miami Heat had a tweet that shows just how intense the Heat's road trip has been.
Since the season was cut shorter because of the lockout, multiple teams must deal with back-to-back-to-back nights of tough games. It hurts even more for the Heat because they're constantly traveling.
That takes a toll on the players, so it will be interesting to see how Miami starts tonight. The Heat had no problem on Sunday, beating the Hawks by 20 points, but after more travel, they could falter. If not today, then Tuesday's contest against the Pacers will surely be rough.
Charles F. Gardner writes for the Journal Sentinel, and he discussed the Bucks upcoming schedule and how they have a chance to pull of something truly amazing.
The Bucks are 7-5 at home and 5-10 on the road. They will play six games before the all-star break in late February, three at home and three on the road.
They have a chance for a rare series sweep of the Heat, something they haven't done since the 1990-'91 season.
Milwaukee beat the Heat in Miami on Jan. 22 after a late rally, and then on Feb. 1, the Bucks hosted the Heat and one by eight points.
The Bucks have had the Heat's number this year, so expect Miami to come out firing right away. It remains to be seen if the road trip will hinder the Heat, though. They can starting firing from the get-go, but they have to hit their shots at least.
One would think it wouldn't be a problem, though, given how the Heat played on Sunday. They way Milwaukee has stepped up without Andrew Bogut has been tremendous, and it's just another reason why the Heat need to be ready.
Miami Player to Watch
LeBron James scored 28 points the first time the Heat played the Bucks this year, and then he went off for 40 points the second time they played.
He leads the Heat in scoring and assists and is a close second in rebounds. LeBron is an unstoppable force, and if they Heat are finally going to get past the Bucks, they'll need LeBron to be at the top of his game once again.
Milwaukee Player to Watch
Brandon Jennings leads the Bucks with 18 points and five rebounds per game. He's the top player the Bucks have at the moment, and in order to win, Milwaukee needs him to thrive tonight.
The young point guard scored a season-high 31 points against the Heat in couple weeks ago, which was the difference-maker. Jennings will have to bring his A-game and then some to get season sweep against the Heat.
The key matchup in this game comes down to each team's ability to close in crunch time. The two times they've gone head-to-head this season have been very close, but it's always been Milwaukee that rises up late to get the victory.
Miami will have to show it has the clutch gene to finish strong. The endurance, stamina and heat of each team will be put to the test tonight. It should be another intense battle that you won't want to miss.
Heat 97, Bucks 93